The Election Commission has disqualified Narottam Mishra, Minister in the Madhya Pradesh government from membership of any State legislature and contesting polls for the next three years for filing wrong accounts of election expenditure.
Powers of election commission to disqualify:
Membership of the minister was revoked under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to be read with Sections 77 and 78 of the Act. This relates to providing wrong information to the Commission on expenses incurred during the polls.
Election Commission of India:
- Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body.
- Article 324 of the Constitution establishes the Election Commission of India.
- Election Commission was established on 25th January 1950.
- It supervises the conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and elections to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.
- It consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. Previously, there were no Election Commissioners.
Appointment of Election Commissioners
- The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
- They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- The status, salary and perks of election commissioners are equivalent to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.
- Other members can be removed by the President in consultation with the Chief Election Commissioner
- The President may appoint Regional Election Commissioners in consultation with the CEC before elections to the Parliament or Assemblies. The regional election commissioners resign after the elections
- The Chief Election Commissioner cannot hold any office of profit after retirement.
- The Chief Election Commissioner cannot be reappointed to the post
Powers of the Election Commission
- The EC enjoys complete autonomy and is insulated from any interference from the Executive
- It also functions as a quasi-judiciary body regarding matters related to elections and electoral disputes
- Its recommendations are binding on the President of India
- However, its decisions are subject to judicial review by High Courts and the Supreme Court acting on electoral petitions
- During the election process, the entire Central and state government machinery (including paramilitary and police forces) is deemed to be on deputation to the Commission
- The Commission takes effective control of government personnel, movable and immovable property for successful conduct of elections
Functions of the Election Commission
- Demarcation of constituencies
- Preparation of electoral rolls
- Issue notification of election dates and schedules
- Establish and enforce code of conduct
- Scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates
- Scrutiny of election expenses
- Allot symbols and accord recognition to political parties
- Render advice to the President and Governors regarding disqualification of MPs and MLAs
- Allot schedules for broadcast and telecast of party campaigns
- Grant exemptions to persons from disqualifications imposed by judicial decisions
The powers of the Election Commission can be seen under 3 headings :
- Administrative Powers
- Advisory Powers
- Quasi-Judicial Powers
- Administrative Powers:
- The commission has the powers to function in accordance to the Delimitation Commission Act of the Parliament and decide the territorial boundaries of the electoral constituencies
- It has the powers to register or deregister a political party
- It enforces the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ and ensures the implementation of it
- Keeps a check on the election expenses of the political parties to ensure a level playing field for all the political parties irrespective of their size and thus the capacity to spend
- Advisory Powers:
- The Commission has the powers to advise the President of India regarding the disqualifications of the members of Parliament
- The Commission also advises the Governor with respect to the disqualifications of members of the State Legislatures
- It advises the High Court / Supreme Court in matters related to post election disputes.
Note : the post election disputes with respect to the elections of President and Vice President goes to the Supreme Court while the disputes with respect to the Parliament and the State Legislatures is referred to the High Courts.
- Quasi-Judicial Powers:
- The Election Commission has the powers to settle disputes with respect to the recognition granted to the political parties
- It is also authorised to act as a court for matters related to disputes arising out of allotment of election symbols to the political parties
It must be noted that the elections with respect to the election of Panchayats and Municipalities is carried out under the supervision of the State Election Commission.